Timeform has announced that it will close the remaining elements of its mail order service from December. This means the “Racehorses” and “Chasers & Hurdlers” annual, and the weekly Timeform Black Book, will no longer be printed.
Director Nigel Townsend said, “The whole publishing industry has been transformed in recent years. Timeform has successfully refocused itself as a digital-first business and the past six months has seen a further significant shift in the behaviour of our customers towards our online services. Finally closing our mail order operation will allow us to allocate more resources to those.”
The Racehorses series dates back to the founding of the company by Phil Bull in 1948 and the seventy-three volumes combine to provide an encyclopaedic history of Flat racing in the modern era. It has also earned a reputation for forthright views on horse racing politics.
“Timeform annuals are the first place people turn to learn about both the greats and the lesser-known horses,” added Townsend. “We will find new ways to offer a definitive record of their achievements and to campaign for the things we believe will benefit the sport, particularly at this time when the whole industry is facing stark challenges. But it’s widely acknowledged that 1,000-page books have struggled to find their place in the modern publishing world.
“Working on the Timeform annuals has been the epitome of a labour of love for the team involved – writers, photographers and production. Geoff Greetham, who worked on ninety-seven annuals, ensured they maintained the highest standards throughout and his outstanding contribution was rightly recognized with the presentation of the George Ennor Trophy by the Horserace Writers & Photographers Association in 2016. Some of the finest writers on the sport honed their skills working alongside him.”
Publishing editor Geoff Greetham, who leaves Timeform after fifty-two years, said: "When the history of the pandemic comes to be written, the demise of the Timeform annuals will merit no more than a footnote, but to the band of loyal readers and to the generations of writers and photographers who have worked on ‘racing’s bible’ this will undoubtedly be a low point. Nothing lasts forever but the Timeform annuals have stood the test of time for longer than most and will still remain as a permanent written history of the sport. Innovation will find a way of continuing this Timeform tradition."